A Millennial’s Marketing Manuscript
“I’d like to go ahead and begin our meeting by letting you all know the espresso machine is back up and running and we have artisanal, vegan-gluten free finger sandwiches in the back, compliments of Derrick’s Mom. Today we have a new member joining Millennials Anonymous. Justin would you like to say a few words, make any comments or complaints? It’s kind of like tweeting, except with your mouth, and there’s no character limit. Today we’re focusing on Advertising. We’re here to listen to anything you have to say, no judgement, provided it’s not derogatory, homophobic, misogynistic, unoriginal. Let’s just say keep it as “PC” as possible. ”
“ Hello everyone. My name is Justin and I’ve recently accepted that I am a Millennial.”
There are roughly 87 million Millennials in the U.S., according to studies from the University of California Dornsife. That’s a fourth of the population. You either know one, feed one, or are one. Millennials are the fun bunch of 18-30 year olds who are rapidly replacing their predecessors, Generation X, who advertisers have discarded and have redirected their aim on the tech savvy, socially conscious group of young adults. I can’t speak for all Millennials, nor will I attempt generalize a group so diverse in age groups and as eclectic. That would be very un-millennial of me. It’s estimated that now 25% of Millennials have taken the plunge into parenthood, which paints a different picture than the coffee-shop-hipster avocado toast eating stereotype.
However, I can make some suggestions as to how marketers can connect with and get to know Millennials.
We like cute– I’m only slightly ashamed to admit how many Friday nights I’ve spent rummaging through Youtube for adorable playful puppy clips or videos of baby sloths getting dressed in pajamas. The number is in triple digits. Very few people dislike cute, but millennials bask in it. There is no threat or competition in cute. A talking lizard spokesperson, a shetland pony moonwalking around a mountain top to a fleetwood mac tune, they have very little if nothing to do with what is being sold. But these images strike us as amusing, entertaining. Nothing is being forced on us. A survey shows that 80% of Millenials prefer that brands entertain them. A brand that shows they can offer more than a product will always have greater appeal.
We like our causes– A friend of mine worked at a tobacco outlet for a while, until it was eventually shut down. During the time between the “eviction notice” and the final closing, an overwhelming amount of support from regulars was received, but mostly from the younger customers, the ones who would come in regularly and vent about their studies and social life. When the Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers heard about the closing, they were sympathetic, but asked that my friend point them in the direction of another store. “Where else sells this?” Millennial aged customers asked similar questions, but also wanted to hear the story. They wanted to help. Several of these customers asked if there was a tip jar, to which my friend responded, “now there is.” Some even offered to buy more than they needed, in order to help the store. According to USC Dornsife, “87% of Millennials have shown the desire to make purchases that have an environmental or social benefit.” If given the choice between a product that is slightly cheaper but causeless and a more expensive product or service backed by a cause, Millennials will most likely spend more in order to help a cause that they believe in.
We kind of like Social Media– A lot. Remember waiting days, sometimes weeks to receive a response letter from your childhood friend? I don’t. And that’s not because I didn’t have friends, in case someone says that. I had lots of friends… Now I get ticked waiting five minutes for someone to respond to my Facebook message or like my post. Once again, not because I don’t have friends. It’s common knowledge that younger generations rely on social media platforms as a means communicating and sharing and receiving information. What sites exactly?
“A recent survey conducted for Sprout Social showed that while Facebook was the number one social media platform Millennials used (33%), younger Millennials (18-24) identified Instagram as their favorite social media platform (25%), followed closely by Facebook and Snapchat (24.4% and 23.3% respectively). In comparison, about 65% of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers cited Facebook as their number one social media platform…”
We value authenticity- My roommate, a recent College grad and current Economics Research assistant, has a “mental blacklist” of brands that rub him the wrong way. If an ad comes off as too kitschy, too razzle dazzle, or even exploitative, he then boycotts the brand for life. Though this may seem extreme, I believe we can all relate to this practice. I specifically recall one instance, during a Superbowl commercial break, where my Dad (a Gen X’er, mind you) hollered at yet another talking animal insurance spokesman. “I hate that duck!” That example aside, Millennials often see through the transparent motives of marketers. Their goal is to push a product or service and draw in potential consumers. So what are effective methods of connecting to Millennials? Think Ethos. It’s established that community and connectivity is important to Millenials, therefore making them more inclined to follow a brand that they see as honest. Millennials, along with everyone else in the world, truly want a personal and genuine experience before a product or service.
Working for Harvest has taught me so.
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